AML. Because some people are dicks.

We get a lot of people asking why it is that they have to jump through so many verification hoops, giving us photos of ID and posing with ID etc just to be able to buy some cryptocurrency.

Like all other (reputable) cryptocurrency exchanges and brokers in New Zealand, we are required to comply with anti-money laundering (AML) regulations.

As well as complying with the law, we also think it's important for our customers to understand why we do this. While "AML" is the typical explanation used for these checks and processes, there's more to it than just that. Some of it is about being compliant with the law, some is about protecting our customers, and some is about just being decent people.

There's some pretty good reasons behind it, so we thought we'd give you a quick run down on why we have to do what we do, and why it's making things better for you.

Reason 1: Stopping people from stealing your money

There's unfortunately far too many people out there using scams and fraud to get access to your money. We have to make sure that someone who has gotten fraudulent access to another person's bank account can't then use those funds to buy cryptocurrencies through us.

And even if a bank account hasn't been hacked and someone is genuinely paying us, we need to make sure they know who they are paying to, and what they're paying for. People can be tricked in to sending us money through what is known  a "man in the middle" scam. Imagine some guy called Joe offers to sell you a brand new iPhone for a too-good-to-be-true price - a sweet $500. In the meantime, Joe comes to us and asks to buy $500 of Bitcoin. We give Joe our bank account for payment, he passes those details to you, you pay us for the "iPhone", we send the Bitcoin to Joe.

Joe walks away with some free Bitcoin, and you're out of pocket $500. It's a classic "man in the middle" scam and one of the reasons that we need to identify people who are buying through us.

Reason 2: Stopping people from stealing your kids

Human trafficking, child sexual exploitation and just plain ol' money laundering. There's lots of bad shit that people can use cryptocurrency for, and we don't want to be part of enabling those activities. While the nature of cryptocurrencies can make it hard to trace transactions, international best practice is to control the places where money flows from fiat (i.e. normal money) in to cryptocurrency. We are one of those places, so we have obligations to be able to tell the authorities, if asked, who has been buying through us.

And we will give up that information if requested (see our T&Cs) so if you're a terrible human being and doing any of those things above, don't come through us!

Reason 3: Stopping people from stealing your bitcoin

Lastly, we need to know who you are, so that we can give you great customer service. If you call us up because you can't access your Portfolio, we need to be able to confirm that it's definitely you calling, and not someone pretending to be you to try to gain fraudulent access to your crypto.

So, while we know that the identity verification process is a pain in the arse, there's good reasons why we do it. It's about protecting you and others, and doing our bit to make the world a better place.


IOTA logo

IOTA 101 - a brief overview of everything IOTA

IOTA is pretty unique in how it works, and is often referred to as the "third generation" of cryptocurrencies. Where most cryptocurrencies are based on a blockchain, IOTA works on an tangle. This might sound like a relatively boring distinction, but it results in some impressive differences and features that other cryptocurrencies struggle to provide.

The best things about IOTA are:

  • No fees. None. Nadda. Zip.
  • Super fast
  • Super scaleable
  • Can be run offline

Sounds pretty good, right? To understand how IOTA manages to do all these things, let's start with looking at the infrastructure that IOTA is built on - the tangle.

What's a tangle?

So if you've read up a bit on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, you'll know that they work on a blockchain. A blockchain is, quite simply, a chain made up of digital blocks. Each block records transactions that people make to each other. And as it's a chain, it has to be built in a linear fashion, one block after the next. This means that there is a limit to how fast the network can process transactions.

IOTA however, is entirely different. It runs on a tangle, not a chain. And as you might imagine, this means things don't have to be ordered and structured. Each block can link in to any other block, it doesn't have to wait in a queue to be the next block in the chain.

IOTA Tangle

The tangle is created by IOTA's protocol, which requires that each block verifies any two other blocks. This means that blocks can be added to the tangle in any order and as long another block verifies them, then they're good to stay. It also means that parts of the tangle can go offline for a period and link back in to the main tangle later.

How can IOTA have no fees?

Typical cryptocurrencies have blockchain network fees, which are the fees you must pay to get your transaction included in the blockchain. Fees can change from day to day, but can get quite expensy, for example Bitcoin fees can get up to $80 per transaction when there's lots of traffic on the network.

For IOTA , the tangle innovation removes the need for fees. Instead of having to pay someone (eg a miner) to verify your transaction and include it in the chain, each block in the IOTA tangle verifies two other blocks, removing the need for mining.

What is IOTA good for?

We've learnt that IOTA is super fast, can handle any number of transactions at once, has no fees and can even go offline. Those are some pretty powerful features!

With these, IOTA might help us unlock whole new micro-economies, which would never have been feasible without IOTA's tech. For example, NIWA might be interested in buying data from your home weather station at one millionth of a cent per data point - currently that's too ridiculous an amount for anyone to bother about, but with free-of-charge super fast transactions, it might make sense. And then your weather station could use that IOTA to buy power off your solar panel, which is also making IOTA from drones that are re-charging at it... the possibilities are endless!

And if this is starting to sound like IOTA could be a currency for the Internet of Things (IOT), that's exactly what IOTA (aka Internet of Things Application) is intended for.

drone charging

What's the difference between IOTA and MIOTA?

Because IOTA are intended for tiny micro payments, each coin is a very very very very small unit. They're so small, that when people trade in IOTA they group them up in to bundles of a million IOTA, which are called megaiota or MIOTA. When you buy and sell IOTA you will typically be trading MIOTA, not IOTA itself.

Sounds great! Where can I get some?

Here at Easy Crypto we can sort you out if you want to purchase MIOTA. We'll deliver your IOTA in a secure portfolio file, but if you want set up your own IOTA wallet, check out our how-to guide.

 

Click here to read more of our 101 series on cryptocurrencies.


How to get a better browser

So you've seen a banner at the top of Easy Crypto saying that your browser isn't supported, and you can't place an order?

We're sorry about that, but we need to make sure you're using a secure, up-to-date browser before you buy through the site.

It's an easy fix - just choose one of the options below to get a better browser:

Chrome

Get it on iOS or Google Play

Download the desktop version

You will need version 62 or higher.

Firefox

Get it on iOS or Google Play

Download the desktop version

You will need version 57 or higher.

Safari

If you're on an iPhone or iPad and you get an unsupported browser message, it means you need to upgrade your current version of Safari. Go to the App Store and find Safari under "updates" to upgrade.

We require Safari 10.3 or higher.


Everything you need to know about wallets

When you purchase through Easy Crypto we create your cryptocurrency wallets for you. We're the only end-to-end service that can generate your wallets, taking all the hassle out of buying Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Even so, for anyone who is buying, spending or holding cryptocurrencies, it's good to learn a bit about wallets and how they work. If nothing else, it makes you sound smarter at BBQs.

What is a wallet?

A wallet is a secure way to handle your cryptocurrency. It doesn't really "hold" your money (like a physical wallet does) instead it holds the keys that allow you to spend the money that you own. Each cryptocurrency that you own has two parts, an "address" which is publicly known and a "private key" which only you can see.

The address is where you send your coins to.* The private key is what allows you to make payments from that address. Anyone who has access to your private key has access to your coins. This is true even if you have not disclosed your address, as the address can be figured out using the private key. So be very careful with your private key and never disclose it to any person, software or website unless you completely trust them.

Hot or Cold?

The first thing to know about cryptocurrency wallets is that they come in two types: 'hot' or 'cold'.  A hot wallet is one that is connected to the internet, a cold wallet is offline. Cold wallets are more secure and because of this they are better suited for large amounts of coins or long-term holding. Hot wallets are used when you want to transact or trades your coins, as they are more accessible.

To be able to spend coins that are in a cold wallet (like your Easy Crypto Portfolio) you need to first move them to a hot wallet - see our instruction page for more.

What wallet is right for me?

There are lots of different wallets you can chose from, with different features and benefits. In the sections below we talk you through different options available and their pros and cons.

Hardware Wallets

Hardware wallets are physical devices that connect to your computer via USB. When they're connected to your computer you can transfer funds off them, but when they're disconnected your funds are completely secure.

But what about if you lose your hardware wallet? A good hardware wallet has something called a "seed" that allows you to reinstall your wallet on to any new device. Remember, the wallet doesn't hold your cryptocurrency, it just holds the keys to the addresses where your currency is. A seed is typically a 24 word phrase, from which it is possible to regenerate all the addresses (and corresponding private keys) that were on your original hardware wallet.

If you want to know more about how this crazy black magic works, read up on heuristically determined addresses (and yes, it is as complicated as it sounds!). And of course, to be able to reinstall a wallet from its seed you will need to be able to keep that 24 word phrase somewhere secure!

Trezor - can hold Bitcoin, Litecoin, Dash and ZCash

Ledger Nano S - can hold Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin, Dash, ZCash and others

Security: High   Accessibility: Medium

Desktop Wallets

A desktop wallet is software that you download and run on a laptop or computer.  Desktop wallets connect to the internet so that you can spend directly from the wallet, but they can also be taken offline for added security.

Electrum - Bitcoin only wallet. Similar to a hardware wallet, your Electrum addresses can always be regenerated if you have your seed phrase.

Jaxx - can hold Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Dash, ZCash and others

Exodus - can hold Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Dash and others

Security: High  Accessibility: Medium

Mobile Wallets

Downloadable as an app on your phone, mobile wallets are an easy and convenient way to access your cryptocurrencies. But, like any wallet that you carry around in your pocket, you wouldn't want to store large amounts in there. It's safest just to use mobile wallets for storing a moderate amount of coins, or those you want to use to purchase or trade.

Most mobile wallets will store your private key for you. While that can be convenient (as you don't need to worry about losing it or accidentally exposing it), it means that the wallet (and not you) is in control of your currency. So, be sure you're happy to trust the mobile wallet with any currency you store there.

Jaxx - available on IOS and Google Play. Use this wallet for Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Dash, ZCash and others

Coinomi - Google Play. You can use this wallet for everything Easy Crypto sells, and more

Security: Medium   Accessibility: High

Paper Wallets

Cryptocurrency doesn't have to be purely digital either, once you have your address and private key you can go old school and print it out - what is known as a "paper wallet". Paper wallets can be generated online complete with QR codes which make it easy to import to a mobile wallet, you just need to scan the QR code with your app. This is another form of cold storage, as it's definitely not connected to the internet (and just don't show it on TV!).

If you print a copy of the details inside your Easy Crypto Portfolio (make sure you include the private keys), you will have a "paper wallet" that you can store somewhere secure like in a safe.

Security: High   Accessibility: Low (need to import in to a hot wallet to spend)

But why stop at just one?

Remember, your wallets don't actually hold your cryptos, they just hold the addresses and private keys that allow you to move or spend your cryptocurrency. So there's no need to have just one wallet, you can keep those addresses and private keys in multiple different wallets.

As long as you use fully secure wallets, the safest option is to keep each address in more than one type of wallet. This will mean you're protected against worst case scenarios such as a hard-drive failure, a house fire, or accidentally throwing them out!

 

*Note: Some addresses become invalid after a transaction has been sent from them. Make sure that you know that your address is valid before you send cryptocurrencies to an existing address that you hold.


How to move your cryptocurrency to a different wallet

Your Easy Crypto Portfolio is a "cold storage" wallet. This is an intentional decision because it is the most secure way that you can store a cryptocurrency. By its design, a cold storage wallet can't be used to transfer funds - it does just one thing, which is securely store your currencies.

You cannot move your coins directly from an Easy Crypto Portfolio. You need to first import your coins to a "hot wallet", so that you are able to make a send transaction.

For most coins, the easiest wallet to use is Exodus.

If your coin isn't supported by Exodus, please see our recommended wallets page.

Sending from Exodus

Step 1: Install Exodus from their website.

Step 2: Follow our guide to Import your balance into Exodus.

Step 3: Click Send in Exodus, and put in the address and amount that you want to send.


Opening your Portfolio

To open your Easy Crypto Portfolio file, follow these three easy steps:

Step 1: Visit the Easy Crypto Open Portfolio website - https://www.easycrypto.nz/portfolio

Step 2: Select your Portfolio file. This is a .ecp file that you received from Easy Crypto via email, after your order was completed. The default filename is "Easy Crypto [YOUR ORDER ID] - [DATE].ecp". Make sure you have saved this file to your computer first!

When your file is successfully selected, you will be able to see the filename on the right:

If you're having trouble:

Step 3: Enter your pass phrase.

  • Your pass phrase is 7 words. It is all lowercase with a single space between each word.
  • Double check that you have entered the words correctly. Our most frequent helpdesk request is due to pass phrases being misspelled. All our pass phrase words are common English words. If you are unsure on spelling, please double check the words in your pass phrase using a dictionary.

Step 4: Click Unlock

If you still cannot open your file, please contact the Easy Crypto helpdesk.


How to open your Portfolio on iPhone or iPad

Because the iPhone and iPad don't have local storage, you have to take an extra step first, and save your Portfolio file from your email to a storage app - like Dropbox, Google Drive, or iCloud.

Step 1: Save your portfolio file

Click on the Portfolio attachment in your email, and choose Dropbox, Google Drive, or iCloud. Save it to a folder in that app.

Step 2: Go to the Easy Crypto portfolio page

Go to https://www.easycrypto.nz/portfolio and click "Open your Portfolio file...".

Step 3: Select the saved portfolio file

If you can't see any file locations, click Browse.

Then select the app you saved to in Step 1, e.g. Dropbox:

Select the portfolio file.

After you have selected your portfolio file we recommend that, for added security, you turn your phone or iPad to airplane mode.

Step 4: Enter your pass phrase

Finally, enter your pass phrase, and your Portfolio will open!


Beyond Bitcoin - the world of alt-coins

So you've heard about Bitcoin, and maybe you know some of the things that are unique about Bitcoin as a currency. But are you aware that Bitcoin is not the only digital currency out there?

....Welcome to the world of alt-coins!

Before we get in to alt-coins though, let's take a quick retrospective to understand how and why alt-coins came about.

The first digital currency, Bitcoin, was a ground-breaking development. For decades, people had been trying to establish a system for an electronic currency. However there were technical challenges that no one had been able to solve, particularly around how a system could ensure that each digital coin couldn't exist (and be spent!) in two places at once. This all changed in 2008 with the publication of a paper that set out the details of a peer-to-peer payments network called "Bitcoin". Bitcoin was the first real solution that had ever been proposed for a digital currency that would work in the real world.

While Bitcoin was truly revolutionary, it was very much the "first generation" of digital currencies. And when you think of your first computer or first mobile phone, we know that technology can improve significantly with each iteration. Bitcoin, as the original digital currency, has some big drawbacks - most notably it is very slow, costly and energy inefficient.

But that isn't true for all digital currencies. Many newer currencies have built on foundations that Bitcoin set and gone on to solve for Bitcoin's limitations, or to develop entirely new ways of doing things.

As at 23 January 2018, there are 1474 different cryptocurrencies out there, and more are being added every week! While that's probably too many to learn about all of them, here are a few of the more popular ones:

  • Ethereum - more than just a currency, Ethereum is a platform that enables other currencies and applications to be built on top of it. While the Bitcoin network simply records transactions, Ethereum goes beyond this and enables smart contracts, ie contracts that will automatically execute when certain conditions are met, no human oversight needed!
  • Ripple - unlike most cryptocurrencies, which shy away from centralised control and formal institutions, Ripple is a semi-centralised currency that aims to work with banks around the world to make international transactions cheaper and faster.
  • IOTA - with a uniquely different infrastructure from any other cryptocurrency, IOTA enables super fast payments with no transaction fees. That's right, zero fees. Because of its ability to process micro payments at high speeds and no cost, IOTA has the potential to open up whole new economies that we've never seen before.
  • Litecoin - commonly known as "the silver to Bitcoin's gold", Litecoin is very similar to Bitcoin, but faster, cheaper and more energy efficient.

Stay tuned for our in-depth series on alt-coins. And if you want to purchase these, or other cryptocurrencies, the easiest and cheapest way to buy is right here at Easy Crypto.


What's so special about Bitcoin?

There are a lot of ways in which Bitcoin is different from any traditional currency, and which make the Bitcoin technology so interesting.

  • Fully digital – Bitcoin has no physical appearance, it’s recorded electronically but doesn’t exist in any tangible form.
  • Decentralised - Bitcoin is not owned by a bank or government, or by anyone! While individual people can buy and hold Bitcoins (or parts of a Bitcoin), the network that runs the currency is controlled by the community that use it, and not by any individual or organisation.
  • Private – instead of using a bank account of credit card that has your name on it, if you want to buy something with bitcoin you don’t need to disclose any personal details. It’s not completely anonymous though, as all transactions are recorded and can be traced. However, you don’t have to link your name to your transaction.
  • Global – it’s as easy to send Bitcoin to your neighbour as it is to send it across the world. And there’s no extra cost for going across borders.
  • Trustworthy – you cannot make a fake bitcoin, put through a false transaction, or steal a bitcoin that is stored securely. The Bitcoin network has built in checks that make it impossible to cheat. Of course, there are always vulnerabilities through things like social engineering (e.g. if someone persuades you to tell them your private key) or if an exchange gets hacked, but the Bitcoin system itself is faultless.

As well as these great features, Bitcoin also has its downsides, which other currencies seek to address.

Stay tuned for our series explaining Ripple, IOTA, Ethereum and more!

To start buying bitcoin and other crypto, head here.


What are the downsides of Bitcoin?

While Bitcoin has some amazing features, it also has its limitations. Some of the key drawbacks of bitcoin are:

  • No helpdesk - while being decentralised (i.e. not controlled by any bank or organisation) is a great strength of Bitcoin, it can also have its downsides. If you forget your password there’s no call centre to help you reset it, and if someone steals your wallet, you can’t just ask the bank to put a hold on your account.
  • Slow – the Bitcoin network can only process around 4 transactions a second, compared to Visa which can theoretically process more than 50,000 transactions per second!
  • Energy intensive – the power used by the Bitcoin network is estimated to be equivalent to 70% of the total power consumption of New Zealand, and this is growing. If Bitcoin were a country, it would be the 58th biggest energy consumer in the world.
  • Expensive to transact with – because Bitcoin uses so much energy, it is expensive to send transactions on the network. At the moment, a transaction costs around NZD$40 – which is pretty pricey!
  • Volatile – the price of Bitcoin can fluctuate massively, which makes it difficult to use for buying goods and services. If you bought a $4 coffee a year ago with Bitcoin, that payment would now be worth $100! And of course, the price can go down as well as up, making Bitcoin a risky investment option.

Not all cryptocurrencies have these same limitations though. While Bitcoin was truly ground-breaking as the first ever cryptocurrency, newer coins have since come along that seek to address some or all of these limitations.

Stay tuned for our upcoming series on other cryptocurrencies and what they offer.